| SPHS Senior Drowns in County Farm Pond
| Batesville Police Officer Denver Donahue, walks up from the drowning scene to talk with BPD Officer Robert Ales. City officers assisted the sheriff’s department.
| BY KATE B DICKSON
What started out as a group of friends enjoying an end-of-school-year outing ended in tragedy Thursday with the drowning of a South Panola High School senior.
Antonio Quentin Hughes, 19, of 219 Noble Street, Batesville, died shortly after noon while swimming in a pond east of town, said Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens.
Authorities were called to the scene after friends summoned help by going out to nearby Hwy 6 east.
One of those who stopped, District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins, said he saw two girls standing off to the side of the road as he drove by.
"I could tell they were crying … they were shaking," Perkins said.
He said the girls told him they’d been swimming and said their friend "didn’t come up."
Perkins drove off the south side of the highway into a field and back to a thicket that surrounded the pond he said is about an acre in size.
He described the location as about one-half mile east of the city.
"The ambulance was already there," Perkins, who summoned the sheriff’s department, said.
He said two youths, a girl and a boy, were beside the pond when he arrived.
Batesville police received a call and arrived on the scene as did the city’s fire department rescue squad and dive team.
Stevens said Hughes’ body was found in water that was about 10-12-feet deep.
She said the youth and four others, both boys and girls, had left from school to go swimming.
Stevens quoted some of the youths as saying they thought Hughes could swim.
However, Stevens said the boy’s mother, Shemar Hughes, told her "he couldn’t swim at all."
The coroner and Sheriff’s Investigator Mark Whitten notified Mrs. Hughes of her son’s death. Whitten was in charge of the investigation.
Stevens quoted those with Hughes as saying they were swimming across the pond "and he didn’t make it."
She said one or more of his companions "looked back" seeing Hughes go under twice.
"They thought he was clowning," Stevens said. "They said he was that way. Then he didn’t come back up."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
| City Puts Park Dog Ban Plan
| A proposal to ban all dogs from city parks didn’t go far this week as aldermen took the measure under advisement.
Alderman Rufus Manley made the proposal earlier this month saying the animals are a nuisance and that owners don’t clean up after their pets.
Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell brought a proposed law to the meeting but its contents weren’t discussed.
Mitchell later told board members to bring him a list of specifics they want to see included in the proposal.
It is not clear if the matter will be returned to the table or will remain under advisement.
According to Mayor Bobby Baker, once something is under advisement it may remain so indefinitely.
When bringing up the park item, Baker said, "I’d rather be talking about other [more important] things like the Civic Center road."
Alderman Bobbie Pounders said, "I’ve had multiple calls from people who like to walk their dogs in the park … I’m not ready to adopt it right now."
| Mixed Emotions…
| Sadness mixed with joy for North Delta’s graduating class of 2003 when tears were shed as the students said good-bye to high school life. Among the graduates were (l to r) Dallas Allgood, Jeremy Aldridge, and the top three graduates, Victoria Bailey, historian; Austin Harrison, salutatorian; and Ashlee Cole, valedictorian. A complete graduation issue will be printed May 30 including all three county high schools.
| ‘Crime Spree’ Ends
with Teen Couple’s Arrest
| BY KATE B DICKSON
A teenage couple is behind bars today accused of taking part in a five-county "crime spree" that included a holdup and shooting in Panola County.
Sheriff David Bryan identified the two as Eva Cox Hardy, 19, of Charleston and Nicholas D. Hardy, 18, of Oakland.
Bond has been denied for both, the sheriff said. Eva Cox Hardy is jailed in the Panola County Detention Center and Nicholas D. Hardy is locked up in Yalobusha County.
The couple was arrested Monday after law enforcement officers "chased them out of Lafayette County into Calhoun County and into the corner of Yalobusha County," Bryan said.
Shots were fired at the vehicle and there was a foot chase that involved shots being fired, the sheriff said. Nicholas D. Hardy was wounded but not seriously injured.
The pair is charged with armed robbery, auto theft and conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the May 14 holdup at Hearn’s Trading Post on Sardis Dam Road, Bryan said.
In that incident, a shotgun-wielding male shot out a security camera and robbed the store clerk, he said. No customers were in the store at the time.
Bryan said Panola investigators "developed" the couple as suspects before becoming aware they were suspects in other incidents.
When a robbery occurred in Oxford with the same method of operation as that used in the Hearn’s holdup, Bryan said investigators showed suspect photo or photos to the Oxford victim and an identification was made.
Besides Panola charges are filed in the counties of Lafayette, Grenada, Tallahatchie, DeSoto and Yalobusha, the sheriff said.
Multiple counts and several charges have been filed against the Hardys including, strong-arm robbery, auto theft, aggravated assault and forgery, Bryan said.
| Malpractice Insurance Crisis
a Home-Town Issue
| The medical malpractice crisis with insurance companies halting coverage has come home to Batesville according to one physician who is losing his coverage July 1.
In a letter to the editor today on Page 4 from some local physicians, it’s said that the company that covers Dr. William Haire will no longer write policies in Mississippi.
Richard Manning, administrator of Tri-Lakes Medical Center, said he is working to help find coverage for Haire.
Also, Manning has concern for several other city physicians whose policies are coming up for renewal soon.
One company, Reciprocal of America, headquartered in Virginia, is going out of business and it’s a firm that has insured 500 doctors in the state and 50 hospitals, Manning said.
Reciprocal has been taken over by the "insurance commissioner," Manning said, because the company’s debts are more than its assets.
It’s the same company, he said, that was involved in the malpractice crisis earlier this year in Oxford.
That crisis saw some physicians put their practices on hold until they could get coverage elsewhere.
| Rains Put Glitch in Building Plans
| Dead in the water.
That’s what Reeves-Williams’ construction superintendent Charlie Sanders told city officials is the problem with getting Phase II houses started in Keating Grove subdivision.
Because city regulations say streets must be completed before housing construction can begin, Sanders says he’s stuck for now.
"We were better off 20 days ago than we are today," Sanders told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Tuesday.
He said heavy rains washed away the work that had been done getting the street bed ready for asphalt.
With the exception of Alderman Rufus Manley, the board was sympathetic with Sanders’ plight but could offer no immediate help.
In order to give Sanders a variance to start housing foundations without the street in place, Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said a public hearing will first be required.
Thus, a public hearing was set for 3 p.m. on June 9 at City Hall.